VERMILLION — Kevin Obanor once again capitalized on a significant size advantage.
Just like many players his size have against the South Dakota men’s basketball team this season.
The Oral Roberts 6-foot-8, 225-pound redshirt freshman forward scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in an 86-72 victory over the Coyotes on Sunday at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
For USD, it felt like deja vu.
And in more than one way.
“One thing that’s been consistent all year, we have trouble guarding the post player,” head coach Todd Lee said.
“We just don’t have the size to guard a post player.”
With 6-foot-6 senior Trey Burch-Manning playing the forward position because of the injury to senior Tyler Hagedorn, the Coyotes have struggled to slow down opposing forwards like Obanor.
And once again, he had a monster game against USD — he had 31 points and 11 rebounds in the first meeting.
“All year long, when somebody has a post player, it’s been tough for us,” Lee added.
Obanor’s presence down low wasn’t the primary struggle for the Coyotes (9-15, 3-8) on Sunday, however.
Overall defense was.
The Golden Eagles (10-17, 6-6) shot 56 percent from the floor — Lee called that “not acceptable” — and built as much as a 19-point lead in the second half.
USD junior guard Triston Simpson (who scored 20 points) put it this way: “We’ve got to nut up and play some defense.”
The loss was the fourth in the row for the Coyotes, who drop into a sixth-place tie with North Dakota in the Summit League standings.
Have there been any common threads during the four-game losing streak?
“Mental lapses; I’d say that’s been pretty consistent,” junior Tyler Peterson said. “We just have to guard the ball.”
That’s presented USD some issues of late, but Lee also pointed to the fact the Summit League is the best three-point conference in the country “by far.”
“There are a lot of guys that can shoot the ball, and it seems like everybody does have a post player,” Lee added.
What happens for a team like USD, he said, is that it spends a lot of time and effort guarding the post in different ways.
“And it really hurts the rest of your defense,” Lee added.
The Coyotes now have a week off until a road game next Saturday afternoon at Western Illinois. It’s an all-important matchup for tiebreaker reasons, given that USD won the first meeting.
South Dakota has also both games remaining with eighth-place North Dakota and one game left with last-place Denver.
“There’s not a whole lot you can do now; you can’t dwell on the past,” Simpson said. “You just have to show up to practice.”
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